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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 18 June, 2018
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Who you gonna call? The Department of Agriculture Investigations Division

The new unit will bring the department’s investigations unit under one banner.

Image: Shutterstock

A NEW UNIT is being set up to carry out investigations on behalf of the Department of Agriculture.

The new Investigations Division will bring all of the investigative powers of the department under one roof with the minister saying it will promote “the highest levels of legal compliance to protect the health of consumers”.

The move comes after a review of the investigative structure of the department and a subsequent decision by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney.

The new division will be headed by a senior veterinary officer and will comprise a team of investigators made up by members from within the department and those drawn from other areas specific to each investigation.

The department already has a range of inspection teams in place and it is envisaged that the new investigations division will refer cases to the inspection teams if they feel it is appropriate.

This new division will includes the functions previously undertaken by the Special Investigations Unit. This unit had been criticised by Irish Farmers Association for being too aggressive in its targeting of farmers with the IFA recently calling for it to be disbanded.

In announcing the new division, Minister Coveney made reference to last year’s horse meat scandal saying that Irish authorities were shown to be successful.

“The equine DNA investigation was conducted by my officers in a highly pressurised environment where their focus and sense of purpose was highly visible and extremely successful,” he said.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association has criticised the announcemtn however, it says that lessons must be learned from the Special Investigations Unit before the new plan proceeds.

“Only then should he consider how to deal with such issues in the future, and obviously it would be completely unacceptable to have any further involvement of any personnel associated with the former SIU,” ICSA president Patrick Kent said this afternoon.

Kent also expressed concern that the new division will take on responsibilities better carried out by gardaí.

ICSA firmly believes that where there are alleged instances of serious wrong-doing which could potentially lead to criminal proceedings, or where proposed penalties could cause severe financial hardship, such cases should be referred to the Garda Síochána.

Read: Lamb kebabs found to contain no… lamb >

Read: Leaving Cert students asked question on horsemeat scandal >

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Rónán Duffy

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